May 10, 2004

Open letter from
President Jim Wagner       

Dear members of the Emory community,

Please pardon this brief interruption during the busiest time in the school year. At this change in the academic season, everyone among us is affected. More than a quarter of our students are preparing for graduation and new chapters in their lives. The rest are finishing their semesters with the prospect of a summer break. Faculty are preparing to shift their thoughts from classroom challenges more exclusively to research and scholarship. And the staff feel the change, too, as a large portion of our campus community will, for a period, no longer be in residence.

For me, it has been a year of rich discovery, for which I am most impressed and thankful. Your welcome and openness to me as a newcomer in the Emory community have touched me deeply. It has been a thrill to discover your passion, not only for those matters that are the core of what we do as a university, but also for those matters that relate to who we are as a community, including issues of race, politics, religion and academic freedom.

You have a respect and eagerness for excellence. You know that excellence is not merely about coming out on top but about changing the way other people think and do. Your commitment to excellence shows in teaching, research and scholarship, athletics, health care, and the effort to discern and pursue high ideals as a community. As a result, this has been a year accented by national awards and national titles; by the articulation of a working vision statement and the kickoff of strategic planning; by the successful recruitment of stellar new faculty and administrators; by unprecedented levels of research support and the promise of new partnerships within and beyond our campus boundaries; by an ever-improving level of dialogue about difficult matters, with the understanding that it is better to be engaged in disagreement than to be silent and disengaged.

Our current fiscal realities have not diminished your enthusiasm but, rather, have deepened your resolve. You have focused on living and working richly, even in these recent times of relative constraint for our university. We have been affected by our financial situation but not distracted by it, and we can look forward to greater abundance in the future.

In attempting to keep my promise that this would be only a brief interruption, I must close with an apology for not listing all of the successes that we have enjoyed over this past academic year. More important than an apology, though, is my sincere hope that you will accept my thanks, from me personally and on behalf of Emory. Congratula-tions to all of our graduates. Best wishes for a refreshing summer to our returning students and staff. May every success come to our faculty as a result of their summer endeavors. And again, to everyone, thank you.

Jim Wagner
Emory University